This paper used a SET lens to firstly examine whether the quality of supervisor-subordinate relationships affects nurses’ perceptions of wellbeing, and in turn, their level of affective commitment. Secondly, the paper examines whether the baby boomer cohort behaved differently from x-generation nurses. The findings indicate that both baby boomers (m=4.8) as well as generation x (m=4.3) nurses were at least somewhat satisfied with the quality of supervisor-subordinate relationships and that LMX in addition to wellbeing accounted for the variance of 17.9% of affective commitment. This means that the quality of the supervisor-subordinate relationship was somewhat instrumental in fostering effective sharing of information, resources and emotional support because they trust and respect one another.
The major contribution of this paper is that it has identified that generational differences do exist in nursing and that has major implications for HR managers in retaining different generations of professionals that are already in limited supply today. It maybe that x-generation nurses require other empowering processes and mechanisms so as to promote a positive perception of wellbeing. Such a position would be challenging to HR health managers who have not really addressed the possibility of different management strategies for different generations of professionals. In terms of the shortage of nurses in many OECD countries, it needs to be recognized that when nurses have a low perception of wellbeing, the costs become evident in terms of increased sick leave, decreased efficiency on the job, early retirement, resignation, and the cost of trying to find new staff members Hence, a generational stratified approach to HR maybe the future for retaining both baby boomers and x-generation professionals longer. More research is required to explore similar themes across OECD countries and for different professionals
Brunetto, Y, Farr-Wharton, R & Shacklock, K 2009, 'The impact of supervisor-subordinate relationships on baby-boomers and x-generation nurses’ perceptions of wellbeing and commitment: a social exchange theory perspective', paper presented to the 13th Annual IRSPM Conference, Copenhagen, Denmark, 6-8 April.